In 2009, Miike Snow released their self-titled debut album much to the acclaim of critics and fans around the world, Miike Snow's "Animal" found it's way into movies, commercials, dance floors and hearts, to became the ode of a generation. Happy To You
is the highly anticipated follow-up on Columbia Records. On their sophomore effort, Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg draw from some of the most influential moments in pop, rock and electronic music to create a sonically grandiose and haunting sound, an opus extending into the deep, dark and magical crevices of a wild imagination. Alongside all the fine-tuning and familiar sounds, the album also features full orchestras, brass sections and marching bands.
On making the new record and the evolution of Miike Snow's sound, Pontus Winnberg states, "Before this album, we were an idea. This time we were a band. And this time, we had paid our dues; we’d toured in 27 countries for 18 months. When we came in to make Happy To You
, we came in as a unit, and emotionally for us that makes a huge difference. And hopefully you can hear it."
Recorded in various studios throughout Sweden and self-produced by the band, Miike Snow's follow up is a complete and cohesive response to their widely well-received debut album. Swedish artist and director Andreas Nilsson also signed on for the campaign to visually bring the idea of what the Jackalope represents and Miike Snow's vision for the future to fruition.
There was always something contrived about Miike Snow beyond their annoying name, a part-tribute to maverick Japanese film director Takashi Miike. Perhaps it was that they seemed to be a side-project studio collaboration between a couple of Swedes who'd bashed out hits for Britney Spears (including the mighty Toxic) and an American chum of Mark Ronson. That their self-titled debut album was a fluffy, albeit highly enjoyable, piece of dancey fun hardly assuaged the doubts that Miike Snow were merely an audio business card, existing primarily for its members to secure more remixing and writing work.
Then, something odd happened. Seemingly taken over by the sheer giddiness of being Miike Snow, the threesome toured the world like men possessed (or at least like a bog-standard rock band), playing venues small to medium as well as festivals. They seemed to have found their calling. Unsurprisingly, this breathless sense of surprised joy underpins their appositely titled second album. Indeed, were there a poll for Nicest Album of 2012, it would be hard to see too far beyond Happy to You.
Infinitely more coherent and infinitely more innovatively produced than the debut, Happy to You is a bold, brassy (literally on The Devil's Work) statement of intent. It's full of tips of the hat to all sorts of unlikely sources, from Enter The Jokers Lair threatening to break into Argentine Melody (Cancion de Argentina), Rod Argent's 1978 World Cup theme, to Vase's homage to The Cure's Close to You, via The Devil's Work introducing itself in the stentorian manner of Foreigner's Cold as Ice.
Lovingly crafted slivers of inspiration abound. The ever-welcome Lykke Li pops up with a haunting vocal on the epically distorted Black Tin Box, which merges twiddly synthesisers with Nine Inch Nails-esque percussion, while the baroque keyboards which suddenly lurch into Pretender offer a moment of scarf-waving impishness.
Right now, they may desperately need the hit which will propel them into the mainstream, but Miike Snow are in a better place then they even they could have expected and Happy to You is a greater leap forwards than we could have expected them to make. It's a delight.
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